I've read the book.  Interesting, but I cannot read anything Ms. Gentile writes about birding/birders without recalling her slant in her biography of Phoebe Snetsinger, "Life List."

My review of the biography criticizes Ms.Gentile for her assertion that Phoebe was mentally ill.  It is the only rationale Ms. Gentile could come up with to explain Phoebe's determination to see birds around the world.  She had no affinity for the joy that we birders have in pursuing and seeing birds.

Some excerpts from my review of the book reveal why I look for motive/agenda rather that accepting her writing as straight reporting:

"The book wasn’t written for birders.  For example, Ms. Gentile feels it necessary to tell us, “They’re called spoonbills because, oddly enough, their beaks look like long wooden cooking spoons.”

This is the biography of a birder, but we never learn what binoculars Phoebe preferred.  What kind of scope did she haul around the world?  What did she wear in the field or always carry in her pack?  What was that 200th species of bird in the St. Louis area in 1970 that the author told us was followed with an exclamation point in the notebook, but does not name?  These things matter to birders; they are essential parts of a birder’s story....

As the book progresses, the author loses all empathy with Pheobe as a birder.  It detracts from the biography...

Ms. Gentile begins the book with, “When I was twenty-three, I fell in love with a birdwatcher.”  He suffered from depression but, even when at his worst, he would awake in the pre-dawn, listen to the bird songs and identify them.

She says, “His connection to nature was so powerful, I realized, that it penetrated his depression better than medicine could, better than I could,” and, “The other birdwatchers I’d met...seemed to approach the pursuit with similar ardor.  Did they need salvation too?”  Curiosity piqued, she announces, “I decided to write some sort of essay on birdwatching."

Ms. Gentile tells us that, “I tried out birdwatching myself, and I eventually took bird tours of Kenya and Peru...”  She continues, “This book is about Phoebe, and about birding, a way of life I wanted to better understand.”  

Tried out birdwatching?  It is our loss that the understanding didn’t come.

Ms. Gentile does not like Pheobe, the birder.  She does not understand the motivations of birding beyond looking at pretty creatures, an adrenalin rush, and perhaps as a convenient excuse to travel to exotic places.  She appears to appreciate ornithology as a worthy pursuit, but does not see the contribution that list birding brings to it."

So, my problems with Ms. Gentile's article?  First, she doesn't understand why we bird, and she clearly does not understand the fun of listing or its role in motivating birders to get out there and bird.  Perhaps that is part of her agenda/motivation and relation to the women's groups in the article--her slant is they're just out there having fun and downplaying the competitiveness (at least in Ms. Gentile's perception and focus of the article.)  Second, the article has no context; that is, sexist bias among the birding community is the emphasis, as if it is unique, not just one example of a rampant (though hopefully changing) facet of our society in general.

My 14 cents worth,

Bodacious birding, y'all 'cause spring is here!

Edge Wade
Columbia, MO
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----- Original Message -----
From: "Andrew Reago" <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Friday, April 19, 2019 10:04:55 AM
Subject: A Feminist Revolution in Birding - article share

My wife, Chrissy McClarren, has been very inspired, affirmed and
uplifted by the following article. As a man, I found it very
enlightening. I'd like to encourage everyone to read this article:

Andy Reago
St. Louis MO
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